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Entries in TRAVEL Thailand: Phuket (1)

Tuesday
Dec182012

(Asia 2012) Second stop:  Phuket!

...continued from (Asia 2012) First Stop:  Singapore!

...

11/21:  My sister and I requested a 5:30am wakeup call in anticipation of our early morning to flight to our next destination, Phuket, Thailand! 

After checking out of the Fairmont Singapore, we met Cousin Eric in the lobby and shared a cab to Changi Airport.  

Because Tiger Airways does not offer curbside, the line at the check-in counter was excruciatingly long.  Luckily, since Eric was familiar with this lengthy process from previous trips, he made sure that we had enough "extra" time prior to departure.  After all, I wanted to check out the incredible airport and, most importantly, eat!

An Indian breakfast...

Mmmmm, my masala dosaA look inside of my 'dosa...and roti prata, of course. Bring on the carbs, baby!When my meal was served, the three of us burst out laughing.  The masala dosa (first picture of the burrito-like item, above) was, no joke, about 15-inches in length, and hung over each side of the plate in which it was served.  But, goddamn, was it good!

The flight was quick (an hour, or so) and smooth, but very bare-bones.  No embarkation papers were distributed!  And there was no beverage or snack service.  I realize that may not sound shocking to Americans, since our carriers have nearly scrapped everything, but Asian airlines *still serve* free snack food/beverages on most flights.

Buzz kill #1:  Upon landing, discovering that it was raining in Phuket.

Buzz kill #2:  Upon deplaning, witnessing a heinous German man pushing folks out of the way with his suitcase and cursing an old lady for not moving out of his way.  I *almost* kicked his ass.   No, really.

Buzz kill #3:  Leaving my lap top on the plane, only to realize this while going through Thai customs.  Luckily, the agents were kind enough to allow me back to the gate so that I could attempt to fetch my computer.  Yes, by the grace of god, it was still there!  

In an effort to save a few baht (Thai currency), the three of us shared a van taxi with others.  We would soon realize how stupid of a move this was, as we were the last hotel drop.  The journey, from door to door, was about 2+ hours.  Sigh.  Plus, our driver was a TOTAL TRIP.  And a lil' senile, to boot.  His crazy ass nearly slammed my left leg in the door.  Moments later, he started cackling like a hyena when we drove past a nasty car wreck on the opposite side of the road.   

It would be safe to say that this cray-cray taxi adventure was "buzz kill #4."

A colorful neighborhood near Phuket AirportPatongAfter the last drop-off in Patong, we made our way to Karon.  And, just like in the movies, the clouds parted and the sun appeared as we approached our resort:  Le Meridien Phuket...

The warm, hospitable Thai greeting...

Flower lei wristlets and a fragrant fruit cocktailThe lobby... 

A welcome cocktail and lunch al-fresco, overlooking the pool and the ocean...

"Tropical drink melting in your hand..."Prawn Pad Thai wrapped in an egg blanketThe pool, the beach, and a baby elephant named "Valentine"...

Sand tag!

The sun sets in paradise...

We made sure to grab one of these handy cards before we left the hotel property for the night.  Brilliant little invention, considering most locals do not speak English and vice versa...

Dinner at The Beach Seafood in Patong...

Whoa. I was talking about the shark on the menu...you were probably focused on my "in need of a manicure" nails. :(Frozen 'Mai Tai' in a hollowed pineappleStir fried local fishWhen in Thailand, get a fabulous - and super cheap - massage!

Hour-long foot massages ROCK my world....

11/22 (Thanksgiving Day in the US):  Since the hotel's bountiful breakfast buffet was included in the price of our particular room, I went a bit overboard every morning.  As if it were my final meal on "Death Row" overboard...

Exotic fruits, a strawberry muffin, and green tea-coconut bread with coconut jamFruit juicesIndian "paratha" or "prata" bread topped with condensed milk and sliced bananas. In Thailalnd, this is known as a "banana pancake."Steamed rice, fried fish with potatoesVegetable "Singapore" noodlesChicken larbThai accompaniments, saucesJams: Note the coconut and pineapple varieties!The world's BEST muesliOne of my many "savory" plates...After breakfast, we waddled over to the pool/beach to park ourselves in the sun.  It was a lovely morning in paradise...

To pool?  Or...

...to beach?  Decisions, decisions.

At around 2pm, clouds began to shield the blue sky.  So, the three of us decided to head in to town (Patong) for lunch in one of the basement stalls at the Jungceylon Mall.

Junceylon (mall), PatongSo. Frickin. True.I made lunch out of fried Indian rice and traditional Thai mango sticky rice.  Keeping it balanced - and healthy - as always...!  

After lunch, the three of us got "doctor fish" pedicures - followed by massages - at the spa/massage joint just across from the food hall.  Appetizing, no?  

It tickled.The verdict?  A once-in-a-life-time experience.  Though I would not recommend a "fish pedicure," because of what happened to me a few days later...stay tuned!

We returned to the hotel around 7pm and, while Eric went in to town to dine with some visiting friends, my sister and I decided to have dinner at our hotel. 

By the time we were seated al-fresco, a rain shower began dancing atop the pool.  "Thank goodness we don't have to deal with that in town," my sister said, as she breathed a sigh of relief.

Amuse bouche: tuna in a crispy rice flower "cup"Pomelo saladThai lobster...

11/23:  We awoke to an overcast sky and a light mist, meaning that we would forego the beach/pool and, instead, check out another nearby town.  After another bountiful breakfast buffet, the three of us reserved tickets to a 7pm "lady boy" performance at Simon Cabaret, then hailed a tuk-tuk.  Destination?  The heart of Karong.

KarongThere were produce stands aplenty, selling exotic local fruits...

DragonfruitAnd, my personal favorite, mangosteensDuring our stroll through town, we came across a tsunami warning/alarm tower, and a tsunami evacuation route sign...

Tsunami warning/alarm towerYikes!When the mist began again, we took cover at Bai Toey, a cute restaurant located in the middle of a shopping cul-de-sac.

I ordered a "lemon ice." While we refer to the fruit as "lime," Thailand calls them lemons.The three of us split an order of spring rolls and a papaya salad, which was accompanied by rice.

Spring rollsPapaya salad, teddy bear-shaped rice :)My plate: A lil' bit of this, and a lil' bit of that...Because the restaurant's walls were already tagged with names and personal taglines from tourists across the world, I decided to leave my mark, as well...

After walking to - and through - Kata, Karong's neighboring town, the three of us decided that we were shopped-out and pooped.  We split a cab back to the hotel and went our separate ways:  Eric and my sister got massages, and I strolled the grounds of the hotel and swam in the ocean once last time.

A massive ceramic flower pot filled with water and lily padsI don't think that I could ever get sick of orchids...especially those that grow in their natural habitat.Oh, how I will miss this...

At about 6:30pm, a van came to fetch us for our 7pm "lady boy" show at Simon Cabaret.

And, trust me, I would have taken pictures of the shenanigans, but...

...I don't have $50K.  

I will say that most of the "lady boys" were sexy as hell and could totally pass for women.  There were a few, however, whose Adam's apples were bigger than their tissue-stuffed chests.

After the show, we had our last dinner in Phuket at Home Dining Cafe & Lounge, a pleasant, off-the-beaten-track restaurant near the Cabaret

Forgoing something alcoholic, I chose to quench my thirst with a lime ("lemon" in Thailand) juice.

Each table received gratis crudite:  Vegetable sticks and garlic dip.  Random, but fresh and delicious.

We split two appetizers:  Spring rolls and shrimp cakes.

For my entree, I chose a spicy shrimp and pepper dish that was served with rice. 

After dinner, the three of us rode back to the hotel in silence.  Not because we were in a fight, but because, I think, we were all upset that this was our last night in Phuket.  On the bright side, we would head to Chiang Mai, Thailand in the morning. 

...

What I took away from Phuket:

  • When you find yourself up against a language barrier in Thailand - and you're looking for a way to connect with the locals - spit out a few verses of "Gangnam Style."  Everyone - and I mean, everyone - knows this song.  And dance.

  • I could not believe - well, actually, I could, since I watch Dateline - the amount of gnarly, grandpa-old British and American men who had gorgeous, young Thai women (or "ladyboys") in their midst at bars in Patong.  Russian "mail order" brides are so yesterday!
  • Oh, and speaking of Russians:  Phuket is infiltrated with sun-seeking Ruskies!  I can say that because I am Russian.  So stop gasping!   
  • While the USD to baht exchange rate is incredibly in our favor, Phuket is still quite pricey.
  • In Thai, the vowels at the end of words are elooooooooooooooooooooongated to dramatic proportions. 
  • Seeing and petting a baby elephant on the beach changed my life.
  • With ingredients such as clear water, a lukewarm temperature, and light waves, the ocean is perfect for swimming laps or lounging atop a raft.  Do yourself a favor and pack your goggles or snorkel mask. 
  • If I ever get married, I'm doing it in this area of Thailand.  And you're invited.

~~~

Until Chiang Mai,

The Lunch Belle